Stephen King Writes A Letter to His 16-Year-Old Self: “Stay Away from Recreational Drugs”

king letter to self 2

By the 1980s, it looked like Stephen King had everything. He had authored a series of bestsellers — Carrie, The Shining, Cujo — and turned them into blockbuster movies. He had a big, 24-room house. Plenty of cash in the bank.  All the trappings of that American Dream. And yet … and yet … he was angry and depressed, smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, drinking lots of beer, snorting coke, and entertaining suicidal thoughts. It’s no wonder then that the author, who sobered up during the late 80s, contributed the letter above to a 2011 collection called Dear Me: A Letter to My 16-Year-Old Self. Edited by Joseph Galliano, the book asked 75 celebrities, writers, musicians, athletes, and actors this question: “If as an adult, you could send a letter to your younger self, what words of guidance, comfort, advice or other message would you put in it?” In King’s case, the advice  was short, sweet, to the point. In essence, a mere five words.

To view the letter in a larger format, click here.

via Flavorwire

Related Content:

Stephen Fry: What I Wish I Had Known When I Was 18

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke Gives Teenage Girls Endearing Advice About Boys (And Much More)

Stephen King Reads from His Upcoming Sequel to The Shining

by | Permalink | Comments (14) |

Support Open Culture

We’re hoping to rely on our loyal readers rather than erratic ads. To support Open Culture’s educational mission, please consider making a donation. We accept PayPal, Venmo (@openculture), Patreon and Crypto! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (14)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Brigofdoom says:

    I love hearing this. “Drugs have made me so much more creative”. nn”So…what have you created with your new found inspiration?”n*Silence*

    • Gezzer50 says:

      As a person that did do drugs (too many) in my youth and early adulthood, I’m on the fence about this concept. I know for a fact I’m a different person than the one I would of been without my experiences. But the big question is am I better off or worse off?nI have to say that I could of been much more successful and earlier in my life as well. I didn’t get any education past HS, because I was too busy getting stoned. In fact I barely graduated. For a tested 135-140 IQ that’s kind of sad.nI’m pretty certain my long term health has suffered in the same sense that heavy smokers/drinkers have health problems later in life as well.nBut I do have a unique perspective that I wouldn’t of otherwise had. I would of been a straight lace nerd with a very black and white view of the world. Instead I’m more aware of the subtle shadings and colours hidden there in.nSo do I have the “potential” to be more creative? I think so. Do I have the drive to put my creativity into a usable form? Well there’s the rub.

    • Danny says:

      John, Paul and George would like to have a word with you on this subject…

  • True says:

    Unfortunately, Stephen King was a much better writer when he was was as high as a kite.

    Still, even at his worst he is better than most authors at their best. Even sober. Anyone who thinks King is not a talented author (and they do occasionally surface) simply does not understand the craft of writing and is focusing instead of their own personal dislike of WHAT he writes about rather than HOW he writes. And to paraphrase King himself when yet another dreary person asked him “Why do write about such awful things?” his answer is “Why do you assume I have a choice?”.

    I am not saying I wish he had stayed a drug addict/alcoholic. Of course not. But despite it not the done thing to admit it, despite people wishing to deny it for all the best of reasons and with the best of intentions, he was a better author when he was flying high as a kite.

  • Cardinal Charles Ng says:

    My advice to myself would be: Spend more time with your children

  • TellDTruth says:

    Total BULLSHIT, Mule. That’s like saying if Gabby Gifford hadn’t been shot in the face, she wouldn’t be the woman she is today. True in a sense, but that doesn’t make it IN ANY WAY a positive or worthwhile experience.nnKing managed to write during his druggy years, thanks to his great work ethic and self-discipline, but any addict knows … if he’d been clean, he would have written twice as much and it would have been twice as good.

  • koomo says:

    My advice to my younger self: Enjoy the great early work he did, but don’t read anything King’s written aftern The Green Mile.

  • Colten says:

    “if he’d been clean, he would have written twice as much and it would have been twice as good.”

    We really have nothing to base that claim on, in all honesty. That is quite an assumption that you’re making.

  • Rachel D says:

    He got there in the end and that’s something to be proud of. His books were and are still amazing.

  • da says:

    thanks for the frequency, kenneth

  • stephanie says:

    I love all the comments on what King should have or could have done or been. Whatever, Stephen King. Say it again, Stephen King. He could do and does what he wants. He’s a writer. What he does or doesn’t do is his choice. Did he waste a decade of his life? I don’t know, ask him. Hemingway, ever hear of him? Sure you have, he wrote all those classic novels. Google him. I wonder what he did or didn’t do. Did he smoke grass, get high, drink?
    Who knows and honestly, who cares. Do you like or enjoy what he wrote? Same for King. Do you enjoy his work? If not then why the hell are you on this site? We’re talking Stephen King. Now, if you’re intention is to write about all the reasons you should NOT indulge in alcohol or drugs then we’re speaking about a different topic. Did King waste a decade of his life? Ask his wife. Spouses know all the ghosts in the closet.

  • John Campbell says:

    He is not saying to stay away from drugs for us, the audience’s sake. He says to stay away for his own sake.

  • Peter Astle says:

    Stephen King is my literary hero. If alcohol and recreational drugs were his crutch, they were also his magic wand. I read somewhere that he couldn’t remember writing some of his earlier brilliant novels. Great he’s been clean for years – I disagree with one of the comments that he wrote better when he was high because he gets better all the time. With or without alcohol King is a genius. Possible the best living writer in the world. He knows his audience intimately, like a lover, and knows how to treat them with his jokey folksy style. Not to mention his superb imagination which seems boundless.

  • Randy Meatball says:

    Why did my dad leave

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.